ROSE O'NEILL didn't just draw Kewpie dolls

Raise your hand if you ever had a Kewpie, know of anyone that had a Kewpie, or if you don't know what I'm talking about. How about a Kewpie on a stick? I had one of those. A celluloid Kewpie on a lightweight cane with feathers attached to the handle. I think I got it on the boardwalk at either Ocean City or Atlantic City. Never came out of storage. Long gone.

If you're new to Kewpies I'll give you a brief bit of info. Rose O'Neill invented the Kewpies around 1908-1909 following a divorce.
Disappointed and melancholy, she returned to Bonniebrook once more. It was here that the plump little elf-like creatures called Kewpies came to her, literally. She claims that they appeared to her in a dream and when she awoke, they were all over her room. In actuality, she had been drawing little cupids as headpieces and tailpieces for her magazine work. In 1909, Edward Bok suggested to her that she do a series of drawings featuring the little creatures as the main character. They were inspired by her baby brother and Cupid, the god of love, “but there is a difference,” she said. “Cupid gets himself into trouble. The Kewpies get themselves out, always searching out ways to make the world better and funnier.” They made their first public appearance in Woman’s Home Companion in December of 1909. They were immediately popular and quickly became a large merchandising industry. (SOURCE: Women's Children Book Illustrators)
O'Neill had an interesting and rather heartbreaking life which you can read about at the site listed as a source above, Women's Children Book Illustrators and at the official Rose O'Neill site.

Well, you'll be relieved to find out I'm not sharing anything to do with Kewpies today. Instead I'm giving you some lovely illustrations I found in a 1929 Cosmopolitan magazine. Four illustrations done by O'Neill for a retelling of Beauty and the Beast by John Erskine. I think these are a real find!

Rose O'Neill_BatB1_1929_tatteredandlost

Rose O'Neill_BatB2_1929_tatteredandlost

Rose O'Neil_BatB3_1929_tatteredandlost

Rose O'Neill_BatB4_1929_tatteredandlost
Click on any image to see it larger.


  1. I was looking through one of my jello advertising booklets yesterday (All Doors Open to JELL-O) and was reminded of this post, because the booklet includes an article on Rose O'Neill. They say she has done most of the drawings for Jell-O ads for the last 8 years (this was in 1917.) Then, they quote her as saying: "Well, when I tell you that I haven't time to be a housewife and have never in my life made up anything eatable except Jell-O, you will know that I must appreciate the advantages offered by the 'easy Jell-O way.'"

  2. I love hearing that. I do remember reading she did Jell-o ads. My luck I never seem to come across any in any of the magazines I have.